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Tribute to Jan Vermazen and an era of Film

Posted by ken On December - 16 - 2015


Tribute to Jan Vermazen and an era of Film


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Jan Vermazen

    Jan Vermazen was one of the original Channel Seven Perth employees, and a very important person during the film era.

    Early news staff included not only Darcy Farrell as News Editor, but also journalist Ross Cusack, cine cameramen Peter Goodall, Digby Milner, Tom Hall, Lu Belci and film editor Jim Healy, with Jan Vermazen playing a vital role processing the 16mm news film.


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George Baker and Jan Vermazen with Jim Healy installing the Houston Fearless film processor

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Jim Healy and Jan Vermazen in the News film processing lab working on the Houston Fearless

    Jan remained with Seven for over 21 years until his retirement in the late 1980’s. He worked for both TVW in the motion picture department and for the TVW subsidiary, Group Color.

    Film was an essential factor of the early days of television in Western Australia.

    It was a time before videotape was introduced here in 1962, so there were only two alternatives: Live images from an electronic camera or content provided on film.

    All recorded shows came on film, whether they be from the big Hollywood Movie Studios, who were now turning their hand to making television series, or shows coming from the big three American television networks of that time (ABC, CBS and NBC). The US Network shows came as kine-recordings (a film recording taken from a high persistence TV monitor of live US variety shows). British television productions often came as kine-recordings, though there were a number of shows made on film.

    News footage was also provided on film until Electronic News Gathering (ENG) was pioneered during the 1970s, to be perfected and become the norm today.

    Film had a number of shortcomings when it came to the inherent delay between shooting, transporting the film back, processing the film and then editing it. ENG could either be broadcast live as an outside broadcast or video recorded. The recorded signal was then edited electronically, rather than using the manual splices of film.

    In the black and white days it generally took about an hour from shooting, transporting, processing (20 minutes) and editing before a film story could be presented to the telecine section for broadcast. A process known as ‘reversal’ was used to save time as this enabled the film shot in the camera to be the film projected by telecine, bypassing the need for an intermediary negative stage, then a positive print with additional processing. Reversal was also used for colour film, once colour TV was introduced in 1975.


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The Houston Fearless 16mm reversal film processor

    It was not long before ENG started making inroads, though heavy and cumbersome at first, the equipment has trimmed down over the years.

    Until electronics took over from celluloid and the chemical processes, Jan was an integral part of film at Seven, whether that be in the developing laboratory or the quality control oversight of assembling film reels, that contained the shows and commercials for daily screening. He was a highly valued and well respected senior member of staff.


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Retirement dinner for Frank Moss in 1979
Back row, from left: D’arcy Biesot, Darcy Farrell, Greg Byrne, Dick Ashton, Kevin Bicknell, Max Bostock, Syd Donovan, Rolf Lindsey, Bernie Roddy, Wally Staniforth, John Hunn, Jan Vermazen, Alf Binks

Front row: Bill McKenzie, Joe Sweeney, Jim Cruthers, Frank Moss, Jack Donovan, Ken Kemp, Charles Hugall.

    Richard Ashton points out how helpful Jan was when TVW staff were engaged in the making of promotional videos. This involved assisting production staff as they spent an hour or more previewing shows stored in the film vault, on a Steenbeck film viewing machine.


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Steenbeck

    Eventually, TVW bought Group Color (WA) Pty. Ltd., where Jan had an important role in the colour film processing activities. When its founder, Ray Irvine left, former WA Newspapers Head Photographer Doug Burton became the manager, and when he retired Richard Ashton took over as the manager.


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The Group Color Team Left to right standing. Steven?, Francis Joseph, Ingrid Bergsma, Lisa Iley, Rina Passeretto, Richard Ashton.
Front seated, Robin Page, Geoff Paynter, Jan Vermazen, Laon Klecha.

    Richard details Jan’s work with Group Color…

After the advent of colour where all the news film cameras shot colour film, Group Color was built with new processing facilities. Even Channel 9 sent up their news film to be processed. Jan was in charge of this news film processor. The news cameraman would bring back their morning’s work and hand it to Jan who would quickly staple it altogether in the darkroom and at 12:30 PM press the start button on the processor. As soon as this was happily working away, he would get his neat little lunchbox and a chair and have his lunch sitting next to the film drying cabinet. It was regular as clockwork and done with much precision, which I think Jan enjoyed.

The news film editors, Ken Alexander, Norm O’Locklin and others would take Jan’s processed film back to edit it for the nightly news broadcast.

Jan other tasks were the printing of film and I will remember us purchasing a new American printer that copied 8mm and super eight film to 16mm prints, not only for the news but for private customers who came to group colour for this service.

Jan also supervised the other staff members who became involved in copying onto VHS videotape customers eight and 16mm films.

Jan loved his film work and his old NSU car.”


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A glimpse of Jan’s beloved NSU Prinz is shown to the right of the above picture

    When Robert Holmes à Court gained control of TVW, he moved Group Color into Perth to service the colour photography needs of his Western Mail newspaper, but when he gained control of the West Australian, he disbanded Group Color. Thus ended Jan’s link with the company he had served so well for many years.

    Sadly, Jan passed away on April 11th 2015, after suffering an massive stroke the previous week.

    His stepson Wido Peppinck kindly advised that Jan was a very private man, who remained immensely proud of his Channel Seven days.

It is rare that an unassuming diminutive person leaves an indelible mark on their work associates and in some small way on the history of Western Australia, but a slightly built motion picture technician has left a legacy in the television history of Western Australia when film was the paramount medium for recording and broadcasting of programs.

This was an era when skills were required in all facets of film making, from camerawork, processing, editing to the use of telecine equipment, and the very success of each local broadcast such as News required the combined services of all involved, not just the presenters. The high quality of his backroom talents in the film processing has left Channel Seven’s archives, as well as other producers, with high standard much valued imagery, that survives better than the early videotape, which has since been rendered not only fragile, but obsolete, as emulsions deteriorate and the ever changing technology of recording television pictures make replay of vintage videotape recordings a precarious affair.

The film that Jan processed has ended up all over the world as News and important events passed through his hands before distribution. These events included the devastating Dwellingup bushfires, 1962 Commonwealth and Empire Games, Eric Edgar Cooke, the award winning Manhunt stories and many other News breaking reports. Though he was never in the limelight and in fact, never sought it, his rare skills and demeanour contributed significantly to the early success of Channel 7.

Jan was to remain at Channel 7 from its establishment in 1959 until his retirement in the late 1980s.

It was never going to be this way, for he was a classic example of the adage that life happens to people while they are busy making other plans. Born in 1924 in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), spending his last 60 years or so in Australia would never have entered his mind, for he nurtured a dream from his early teenage years to join the merchant Navy and establish a career sailing the world. His dream was thwarted when his poor eyesight and the need to wear glasses rendered him ineligible for service in the Dutch merchant Navy.

His father was a senior Dutch Colonial bureaucrat in a mountain town called Bandung where Jan spent his first nine years in the cooler region of the colony. When his father completed his term of appointment and decided to return his family to Holland in 1933, Jan and his two sisters enjoyed a marvellous adventure when their trip to Holland from the Indies took them through the Suez Canal. Before returning to settle in the quaint Dutch town of Zeist, the family enjoyed a wonderful nine-month stay in the Swiss City of Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva. Not only would young Jan had experienced the wonders of snow, but he recounted years later that on many occasions he watched the Orient express hurtling past Lake Geneva on its way to its exotic destination.

After returning to Holland and adjusting to the very different lifestyle, the family’s situation seemed very good for shortly after their return, Jan’s father was elected as a City Councillor with rumoured prospects of even greater success in public life. He had the status of a successful Colonial bureaucrat and seemed destined for bigger and brighter recognition.

However, not only did the ominous developments in Germany after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power have a profound impact on Holland, but the situation was made infinitely worse by the fact that Jan’s father had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in 1937 leaving his young widow and three children under the age of 11. When the German military invaded Holland in May 1940, the area where Jan lived was plunged into chaos. Many inhabitants in the area were to subsequently die as a result of poor living conditions, and mistreatment as their German occupiers plundered the countryside, for labour, food and resources. Young Jan, then a spindly youth of 16, qualified for conscription as forced labour, and with his slight frame and stature there was great concern in his family of his ability to survive the rigorous treatment and conditions that forced labour may bring. Jan and his mother thus made concerted efforts to avoid him being pressed into service for the Germans.

Notwithstanding the enormous risks, Jan’s mother was able to arrange for him to take refuge on a farming property not far away from the German controlled areas. It was whilst Jan was in hiding that he celebrated his 16th birthday. Knowing her son’s love of anything to do with ships, his mother had given him a metal cover for a wooden cigarette box depicting a copy of a painting of one of the many sea battles fought between England and the Dutch republic in the 17th Century. He was to treasure it for the rest of his life and years later, had the item silver plated and having his name inscribed on the back.

In the early stages of the war, the Germans were content to allow the farming community to continue with little interference to their activities. Nevertheless, his situation was a dangerous one for both Jan and the farmer sheltering him due to the fact that the Germans were known to execute those who avoided the labour conscription to go into hiding. As well, any other the Dutch citizen who protected the “onderduikers”(as they were termed) was also shot immediately. As the war progressed and the Germans suffered significant losses and reversals, the shortage of labour meant that the need for conscripted labour became more pressing. Raids in the cities and countryside grew in regularity and intensity making Jan’s hiding position even more dangerous amidst the ever present threat of exposure by collaborators as well as the enemy troops.

The experiences of war were to have a lasting effect on Jan for the rest of his life. Like many who lived through that period of deprivation and fear, he never talked about the war but the legacy of the austerity required to survive during those years made him parsimonious in expenditure, making do with little and seldom throwing away utensils or papers, long after they had served their purpose. An unusual legacy was that again for the rest of his life, he never indulged in having a hot shower. Whether it was winter or summer, freezing or just cold, Jan had a cold shower every morning and every night. In his final years, the gas hot water system was not even turned on.

As if his life in Holland during the war had not been hard enough, the economy of post-war Holland offered little to a youth who was then only just 21 years of age. With no prospects of joining the merchant Navy and with no career thus far, Jan relied heavily on the promises of a wealthy Uncle in the United States who had successfully gained some influence within the Hollywood film industry. The young Jan thus concentrated heavily on learning film craft in the Netherlands with the aim of qualifying and gaining employment in the United States as a film technician. Sadly, his dreams of travel to and success in the United States never eventuated. As Jan was completing his technical studies and gaining experience, his uncle’s fortunes and career faltered. Soon afterwards, his uncle passed away unexpectedly, effectively ending any prospects of employment or a career in the United States. Undaunted, Jan achieved employment in the Dutch film industry within Holland and soon developed a solid career.

However, having spent many of his formative years in the Dutch East Indies and with the continuing post-war gloom in the Dutch economy, Jan took a giant leap of faith, and in the early 1950s, boarded a ship to the Dutch East Indies. He was single, self-reliant and believed in his own abilities. Again, world events again impacted on dreams, for shortly after his arrival, independence was granted to Indonesia resulting in lost job opportunities for Dutch citizens in the former colony. Jan thus faced the prospect of returning to Holland or seeking to make a fresh start elsewhere.

The decision by Jan to seek a new life in Australia was to chart the rest of his life. It was to result in a successful and challenging career and ultimately, to bring him into contact with the love of his life.

In the early-1950s, Australia was a very different country in both its population composition and in its attitude towards migrants. Regardless of qualifications or experience, migrants were required to undertake any work allocated to them and to abandon any hopes of merely continuing on in their areas of expertise. The heavily Anglo-Saxonized authorities had little interest in migrants from other European countries and thus assigned those particular migrants to areas deemed suitable.

Having made the decision to leave the new country of Indonesia, Jan boarded a vessel, which regularly plied its trade between Indonesia and Australia. Arriving ironically in Fremantle, Western Australia but then making his way to Victoria in late 1951, Jan launched his new life in Australia. Together with numerous other immigrants, he was subsequently sent to a large Migrant Labour camp in Bonagilla, Victoria near the Twin cities of Albury/Wodonga where he spent a short time.

Fortunately, Jan’s skills and expertise were recognised at an early stage after his arrival and he was assigned duties as a technician working at the Yallourn Power Station. This was indeed fortuitous for after a short period of employment at Yallourn, he made his way to Melbourne in an effort to gain more meaningful employment.

For once, the world stage assisted him in his quest for a career and success. Melbourne was on the verge of staging the 1956 Olympic Games and the talents and technical expertise of many immigrants was finally being recognised. Given his experience in the Dutch film industry in both Holland and in the Dutch East Indies, Jan’s technical abilities made a favourable impression which catapulted him to the forefront of selection in motion picture production of the Olympic events. He had expertise and high-quality experience not only in the medium of black and white film but also was considered to be an expert in the processing of colour film. Given his skills, he was snapped up to provide significant technical expertise which would enable television and movie studios to distribute film footage of the 1956 Olympic Games throughout the world.

His successful participation in the technical production of film footage during the Melbourne Olympic Games provided the launch pad for Jan to further his dreams of a career as a film technician in some of the leading world film centres. Continued to fine tune his skills and abilities is that the learning is evident to all who came into contact with him. He read avidly and absorbed every new technical development with a voracious appetite to succeed. Even if he had remained in Melbourne, his credentials and reputation would stand him in good stead for a comfortable career in that location.

It was the very success that he had engendered during his employment for the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956 that caught the attention of recruitment personnel sourcing staff for the opening of Western Australia’s first television channel scheduled for a 1959 opening. Not only were “front of house” celebrities being recruited, but also staff with significant technical expertise to ensure success of the new television venture. Jan was thus approached and subsequently employed to provide technical expertise for the fledgling television station known as TVW Channel 7.

Notwithstanding his solid contribution to the initial success of TVW7, Jan continued to harbour dreams of international success as well as wishing to develop his technological expertise, and thus made overtures for employment elsewhere. His efforts were rewarded for early in 1961 he was offered employment in London, and thus made a decision to leave Channel 7. He crafted and submitted his letter of resignation and agreed to work out the remaining notice period before departing to London. He made plans to sell his quaint NSU Prinz vehicle that he had bought soon after arrival in Western Australia. It was a new production vehicle built in Germany and in many ways, unsuitable for use in Western Australia. Sales of the vehicle never took off in Western Australia, but for many Channel 7 employees, it was viewed as being “typically Jan” and identified strongly with him.

As a bachelor and living in West Perth, his nightly meals were more often than not at restaurants around the area where he resided. Whilst he had a well-rounded liking for most cuisines, he was partial to Italian food and ate regularly at a restaurant in Hay Street called “The Venezia”. It was there that he was to meet the love of his life and his companion for the next 33 years.

Annie Peppinck (as she then was known) was a waitress in the restaurant, and also being of Dutch origin struck up a conversation with the debonair customer during one of his regular visits. The conversation blossomed into romance and shortly over a year later, they were married.

Jan now faced a predicament in that he had already resigned from Channel 7 and was in fact booked to fly to London only a few weeks later. With his clinical view of life, he approached his boss and asked if it were possible to withdraw his resignation. His request was granted with the result that Jan remained with Seven for over 21 years until his retirement in the late 1980’s. During that period of employment he worked for both TVW in the motion picture department and for the TVW subsidiary, Group Color.

At no point in his later life did Jan express any regrets in not having pursued his dreams of an international career. He loved his work and colleagues at channel 7, and strived to remain competent and relevant in his work particularly when rapid changes in technology brought significant challenges in his later working life.

In his personal life, his decision to remain in Western Australia and his marriage in 1962 brought stability he had not previously enjoyed. Annie changed her name to Annette, and brought to the relationship two teenage sons and the challenges of parenthood. The family relocated to Inglewood from where Jan made the daily trek to Tuart Hill. Jan and Annette took to the social activities offered by Channel 7 and were regulars at the annual TVW Ball for a number of years. Jan continued his personal development and commenced learning the Russian language at night school as an adjunct to his busy day routines.


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Wife Annette with Jan at the 1964 TVW Ball

After renting for a period of years, Jan and Annette finally purchased a home which they had built in Greenwood and were to remain there for not only the rest of their married lives but also for the remainder of Jan’s life. Annette was a keen gardener and lovingly tended the garden resulting in an oasis of greenery and colour. Jan provided the handyman skills to facilitate her plans and as a result, the garden thrived prolifically.

The peaceful and blissful existence that they had created during the 1960s continued throughout the 1970s as Jan and Annette undertook a number of overseas trips to the land of their birth and Malaysia. Like Jan, Annette had been born in the then Dutch East Indies and sentimental journeys to the place of their birth in Indonesia were regular occurrences. They were adventurous and planned trips to various “out of the way” places. Their daily cuisine even at home was heavily slanted towards the Dutch Indonesian style food and their banquets of “ “Rijst-tafel” for friends and family were comprehensive and unforgettable. The joy of “grandparent-hood” commenced in the late 1970s and continued through into the 1980s and 90s with both savouring the contact with their grandchildren.

After the advent of colour television hit Western Australia in 1975, all news film cameras shot colour film. TVW’s subsidiary Group Color had a significant role to play in processing of that footage as not only did the company process news film footage for Channel 7, but rival television Channel STW 9 sent their news film to be processed as well. At the time, Jan was in charge of the news film processor. Jan was scrupulously fair in his commercial activities and maintained the utmost integrity in the manner this work was conducted. He gave priority to the job that was submitted first, rather than disadvantaging others to the benefit of TVW alone and thus treated Channel 9’s submissions with the same importance accorded to Channel 7.

During the 1980s, rapid technological change in the film and television industry meant that ENG started making inroads into the production area, thus rendering the film processing technology utilised in the 1950s and 1960s almost obsolete.

For Jan, this technological change impacted heavily on his potential for contribution to news film footage as video techniques took over.

When Robert Holmes à Court gained control of TVW Channel 7, he moved Group Color to Perth to service the colour photography needs of his Western Mail newspaper, but when he gained control of West Australian Newspapers, he disbanded Group Color. This effectively ended Jan’s career and the unbroken link with Channel 7, the company he had served so well for many years. Jan retired soon afterwards.

Sadly, the halcyon days and unforgettable domestic bliss between Jan and Annette came to an end in 1994 with the passing of Annette. She had undergone surgery for a heart valve replacement early in 1981 but as the decade ended, the pig’s valve which had been inserted had begun to fail. Annette had been in poor health for some time and continued to deteriorate dramatically during the early 1990’s.

After her death, Jan lived a simple and frugal lifestyle. He remained in the house and in many ways retained the decor and garden as a tribute to her. Ever the practical man, he continued to tend the garden but never with the same flair or enthusiasm that she had brought to her passion but nevertheless the regular watering and maintenance had it looking as neat and tidy as in her day.

The twilight years of Jan’s life were thus a mixture of happiness punctuated by the sadness of losing his life companion and soulmate, Annette. The two had continued to travel until her failing health had rendered this impossible and they had continued to revel in the close relationship with Annette’s sons who had gained strong careers as a diplomat for Australia and a Corporate Lawyer.


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Jan enjoying a drink in 2013

During his last twenty years of life, Jan developed a passionate interest in antiques and in particular, ceramics. Many of his days were spent attending auctions to purchase items which he considered would be family heirlooms for the ever-growing family he had inherited. He was a mentor and guide to his stepchildren and grandchildren, an individualist, a listener and a thinker. Above all, he cherished his memories of Annette.

Jan was a very private man, who remained immensely proud of his Channel 7 days. Though he did not attend regular reunions, he retained the paraphernalia associated with the reunions and poured over the lists of those who were invited or attended.

Jan’s health was to be a source of inspiration to his family. He had never played sport in his younger days, yet was fitter than most even then. Throughout his life, he only took cold showers and until 2012, walked 5km daily. He was seldom ill and cursed himself, when at the age of 88, he was hospitalised for the first time. He had fallen whilst climbing a few stairs at the back of his house and it had resulted in a broken shoulder bone. He spent six weeks in hospital and made a full recovery to the extent that he was able to resume his daily walking routine with ease.

Jan remained active in his life, and walked 30 minutes daily until the day of the stroke.

His self discipline was amazing and is now family folklore. Everything from the quantity of his breakfast cereal and the amount of wine consumed each night was carefully measured. He required an annual motor test to retain his licence in later years, and visited the Morley area beforehand to familiarise himself with the road layouts (that worked for him until his 88th birthday), and until the day of the stroke, walked 15 minutes to the shop and 15 minutes back carrying his self imposed limit of 2kgs. He was a remarkable man who still trained to the library weekly from Greenwood to research his passion area of antiques.


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The last photo of Jan in good health was taken only a week before his passing. Wildo and his partner Alison had taken him to the Swan Valley for an outing and he seemed as peaceful and contented as he had always been.

Sadly, Jan was in his 91st year when he passed away on April 11th 2015, after suffering an unexpected and massive stroke the previous week. Following the stroke, he had lapsed into a coma. It offered no quality of life and the prognosis was that he was unlikely to recover. Mercifully the Lord came quickly to take this ordinary, yet extraordinary Dutch-born Australian, the sort of person you pass in the streets, who still bids you good-morning, stands in the supermarket queue and gives you a smile. Ordinary, good natured, one of “us,” but underneath it all, an exceptional man.

As a testimony to his intense determination and character, it was only after his death that family became aware of the significant charitable donations he made to organisations such as the Salvation Army, Smith family and CBM. They were regularly made and received by the organisations with gratitude.

We will miss him.

    Stepson Winfred Peppinck added the following observations….

There was to be no funeral, no flowers. His last written instructions to me were to be “Let Prosser Scott do their job without interference”. He was a very private man like that….

With his neatly trimmed white beard, dark hair and stern looking glasses, this diminutive, dapper, demure Dutchman, changed all our lives as he moved into them. We called him “Panda Bear” and it stuck for ever. If the fact of turning his back on London, while at the technological cutting edge was gone forever, it appeared not to bother him at all. He became a naturalised Australian, took the reprobate teenagers and moulded them to appreciate finery, dress, manners and the pursuit of education. My brother becoming a highly successful corporate lawyer and me a diplomat who finished up as an adviser in a Royal Court in Bahrain, staying for a decade. We owe Panda everything.

We shall remember him not just as a father figure, for he was bigger than that. He was a mentor and guide, an individualist, listener and thinker. Panda was generous to his family, yet parsimonious in himself.

He wanted no funeral service, he’d already planned and paid for it, long ago. He was that sort of man. We will miss him mightily. Vale Panda.


Johan (Jan) Karel Vermazen,

Born; Bandung, Indonesia, 10th September, 1924

Died; Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital, Perth 11th April 2015

    Adoring husband of Annette (dec), much loved step-father of Winfred and Wido, Wendy and Alison, Judy, Helen, “Opa” to Adam, Bradley, Sasha and Julian, revered great-grandfather, loved Uncle of Veronique and Edith, friend to many in his neighbourhood. Will be greatly missed for his wisdom and guidance.




John Cruthers – Eulogy to his Father

Posted by ken On November - 10 - 2015


“Help people, Jimmy” – the life of Jim Cruthers


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John Cruthers

    I’d like to thank you all for being here today to farewell our Dad, Jim Cruthers. I’ll be speaking about Dad’s early days and our family life together. Bill McKenzie will talk about Dad’s work as a broadcaster, while Ian Constable will cover his involvement in the community and charity. Finally Sam Cruthers, Dad’s grandson, will give us some of his favourite stories and memories about Poppa Jim.


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27 Anstey Street, Claremont

    Dad was born at home, 27 Anstey Street Claremont. It was a war service home, as James senior had landed on the first day at Gallipoli and later served in France, where he won the Military Medal. Dad was the fifth child born of six; four survived – Joy and Frank, Jim and Sylvia.


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Jim was the third child of six

    His mother Kate Nestor was the daughter of Robert (Jock) Nestor, a sergeant major of the Royal Scots in India. A career soldier, he retired to Perth and became a legendary figure at the army training facility Blackboy Camp.

    At the start of the Great Depression, James senior took off to the goldfields prospecting, leaving Kate to bring up the children alone on his war pension. Times were tough, but Dad remembers there were plenty of people worse off than them. Kate was a good mother and did everything to bring up the children in the right way. They enjoyed a close family life with nightly sing-alongs around the piano. Dad and brother Frank performed together as a vocal duo and were inevitably christened the Cruthers Brothers. Later they became choir boys in this cathedral.


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School days

    Dad went to school at Claremont Central, but when he turned 14 it was time to find a job. Kate had managed to get brother Frank an apprentice-ship as a sign-writer and was very pleased. But she failed in her attempt to apprentice Dad to a butcher. In desperation she spoke to the lady next door, a journalist for the Daily News, who arranged a job interview. In April 1938, Dad began work at Newspaper House on the Terrace. He worked on the front desk and operated the switchboard on Saturdays. He was barely 150 cm tall and his shoe size was 5.


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The Daily News building, 75-77 St George’s Terrace, Perth

    Dad loved the world of newspapers – the hot lead, the hard drinking journos and cranky sub-editors, the contact with all levels of society. While not at work he kept busy with sport – football, athletics and surf life-saving. After the attack on Pearl Harbour, he joined the army and was sent to Broome to help protect northern Australia from the expected attack by the Japanese. At 19 he followed brother Frank into the RAAF, training at Cunderdin on Tiger Moths, and later in Canada. He was to fly Lancaster bombers, but the war ended before he could see action.


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Jim joins the RAAF aged 18

    Dad loved the air force too. He spoke about it often, taught Sue and I risqué air force songs, and wore his great coat and wool-lined air force boots through the winters of our childhood. He took us to the Dawn Service, and his father to the ANZAC Day march most years.

    After the war he returned to Newspaper House, where he became a journalist and later an editor. He also had his first taste of charity work as a young journalist. In 1945 he met Sheila Della Vedova, who was to become the other fixed point in his life. The daughter of Italian migrants, Sheila was one of the few people I ever knew with a drive to match Dad’s. I’m not surprised they succeeded. They married in this cathedral in February 1950. I was born in 1953 and Sue followed four years later.


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Newspaper House in the 1950s

    In 1958 Dad got the tap on the shoulder to put together an application for Perth’s first television licence. TVW Channel 7 went to air the following year. I remember this time as a golden period in our family life. We lived in a new house at 84 Thelma Street Como, with Perth’s first TV set in our lounge-room. We were a close and happy family, and Dad was fully involved in our lives. He took us swimming training every morning for years, and we had fantastic family holidays. When I was in year 10 at Hale School, he took time off to accompany a school trip to the goldfields. He was chief cook and bottle washer, and a dab hand with baked beans and Spam.

    I left Perth to study in Sydney in 1977, and in 1983 Dad and Mum left too, setting up house in New York, where Dad worked as personal adviser to Rupert Murdoch. Sue and I visited often, and it was great to see them both so happy and busy. Dad’s vast experience across print, television, radio and movies made him an incredibly valuable asset for Rupert, as did his connections back into the Australian media.


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In 1977 John goes to Film School and Sue into nursing

    On their return to Perth in 1990 they moved into a new family home in Bird Street, Mosman Park. Dad continued corporate and charity work, and helped Mum with the growing art collection. This was also the period in which their grand children Sam and Theodore arrived on the scene, and as a result we saw more of them in Sydney, and on Christmas holidays spent with them at Bird Street.


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Arrival of grandchildren

    Dad and Mum really enjoyed their retirement. They travelled overseas for News Corp work and to visit their many friends. But Mum had a run of poor health in the early 2000s and in 2008 she had two falls that meant she needed to be in a high care facility. Dad was still in reasonable health, but he wouldn’t be separated from Sheila and they both moved into Peter Arney nursing home in late 2008, where they were together until Mum passed in 2011. At this point I’d like to pay tribute to the staff at Peter Arney, to Dad’s former secretary at the Sunday Times, Margaret Anthony, and to his two carers Meriyan and Veer. You made Dad’s last years a special time, and he loved you.


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Peter Arney nursing home Salter Point facing Canning River

    As you’ll hear from the people speaking after me, Dad achieved a great deal in his life, across a vast range of activities – much of it characterised by a desire to contribute and be a good citizen. Looking back on his life, I often wondered where this quality came from. Then about five years ago I got the answer. We were pushing Mum in her wheelchair around the Canning River, and stopped for a rest near Deepwater Point. Out of the blue Dad turned to me and said: “Help people, Jimmy”. I must have looked puzzled because he went on: “My mother said that to me, when I was a very small boy”. He said nothing more and we continued our walk.

    It’s clear to me now that the little boy took these words to heart. They became his motto. His achievements, his desire to serve, his generosity, his love and respect for Sheila, his caring attitude to Sue and I, all arose out of a deep and abiding attachment to humanity and community. Choir service aside, I would not call Dad a religious man. But when faced with the choices you will hear about in today’s first Bible reading, Dad chose life, he chose goodness, he chose loving kindness.

    And he wanted this for other people too. In an interview for the National Film and Sound Archive, he was describing the reasons he started Telethon. Not for him obvious things like raising money for research and saving lives. No, he said: “Telethon gave people, and particularly children, one day of the year in which they could think of other people rather than themselves.” Help people, Jimmy.


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    So here we are, Dad. Early tomorrow you will be lowered into the ground and none of us will see you again on this earth. But you’ll always be with us. We’re surrounded by your good works, and your goodness hopefully lives on in us, your children and grand-children.

    For my final words, I did find something, a phrase drilled into you by your air force instructors over 60 years ago, that still rings true: Farewell Dad, “fly straight and level”.




Professor Ian Constable – Eulogy to Sir James Cruthers

Posted by ken On November - 10 - 2015


Sir James Cruthers


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Professor Ian Constable

    We all know of the long and exceptional service to the WA community of Sir James Cruthers. Thus to honour his life and service in this hallowed cathedral is truly uplifting. Jim was a choir boy here in his early life and 70 years later a philanthropic leader in its restoration.


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    From the outset Jim understood his duty of care to others. The 10 shillings from his first job at the newspaper was divided 8 to his mother for board, 1 shilling for transport and one for everything else. As he advanced as a young journalist, his boss Mr McCartney appointed him in 1948 to develop the publicity for a nation-wide appeal for the Red Cross. The following year he was involved in the fund-raising campaign to purchase a linear accelerator to begin nuclear medicine in Perth, at Charles Gairdner Hospital. He quickly learned how charities operate and more importantly how to energise them.


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As a youthful reporter

    As his stellar news and entertainment business career progressed Jim recognized the monopolistic status of both the newspaper and the first television license. He always took the view that the license belonged to the people. This demanded that he take an altruistic view of community service. Personally that led to him serving on at least 12 Government boards and involvement in more than 30 charities. On the corporate side Jim through Channel 7 sponsored young people’s awards, summer schools, the Festival of Perth, the Lions Miss Personality charitable quest and countless other worthy causes.


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    There was under Jim a corporate creed that never tried to scrape every last dollar out of the community.

    In 1968 Jim founded the most successful ongoing charity in our state’s entire history. Telethon in its first year in 1968 raised 91,000 dollars and 21 cents. This year it surpassed 25 million. Channel 7 under Jim bore every single cost involved in the event, so that every cent raised went to Telethon. He always said Telethon was good for the community as it gave every child 1 day in the year to think of people other than themselves.

    During the years up until 1981 when Jim stepped down from running local media, he lent his name and expertise to numerous worthy causes and events — the first president of Taverners, surf life saving, the Festival of Perth, the Australian Open golf and so on. John Cruthers once had occasion to look at his father’s tax return and it had 2 pages of listed individual donations.



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Jim and Sheila with the Art Collection

    As we have heard, Jim then moved to New York for a decade with News Corporation. During these years as a major international business figure, commuting weekly for a time on Concorde to Europe, he and Sheila continued their links with WA and built up their extraordinary art collection with John.

    I came to know them well on their return in 1990. Sheila had a difficult eye condition which required a lot of attention and eventual surgery. From his new position as Chairman of the Sunday Times, Jim set about applying himself vigorously to charity and community work. Only now he was able to bring his extraordinary vision, strategic thinking, business acumen, personal reputation, contacts and powers of persuasion to bear.

    He was uniquely effective. When the fledgling Telethon Kids Institute was struggling for funding in the early 1990’s, he joined the Board long enough to spearhead its pivotal capital raising campaign and recruit new board members. He then slipped quietly into the background.

    He chaired or masterminded crucial funding campaigns for the Lions Eye Institute, the Association for the Blind, the Urology Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation and others. He was a key participant in UWA’s Hackett Foundation, the Berndt Museum, the Art Gallery of WA Foundation, the Government House Foundation, the Duyfken project and others.


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    When Curtin University wanted to build the John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library, it was Jim who went to Canberra and extracted a multi-million dollar pledge from the PM of the day.


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    The magnificent Cruthers art collection also reflected kindness to struggling artists, support over many years for the nation’s public galleries and private dealers. In the end the collection became a priceless endowment for the University of WA.


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    I think the words of John and Sue encapsulate the Jim Cruthers we all knew best: “The values he cherished most were generosity and kindness, to be a good member of society and to contribute to it.”

    He has surely contributed substantially to the shape and values of our post war society in Western Australia. Not only did he touch so many lives with his community activities during his life, but the legacy of what he created in so many fields will endure for generations.

Ian Constable



Sir James Cruthers Biography



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Sam Cruthers – Eulogy to his Grandfather

Posted by ken On November - 10 - 2015


POPPA JIM


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Sam Cruthers

    Every year, for as long as I remember, our family would travel to Perth for summer holidays with Nanna and Poppa. We stayed in their house at Bird Street, Mosman Park, with its great back yard. It was near Cottesloe Beach, the Swan River, Chidley Point Golf Club and the local cricket nets. It was a great holiday spot for two boys from the inner city of Sydney.


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Mosman Park Home

    I remember one summer when I was six or seven, Poppa picked us up from the airport. As I was getting out of the car at Bird Street, I tripped and skinned my knee. I started to cry, but when Poppa rushed over he looked intently at the bitumen where I’d tripped and said: “I hope you haven’t damaged the road”. He was distracting me with humour, but it also in a way encapsulates Pop – things are pretty good and it’s not all about you.

    If I was in a sulky mood he would say, “Go out and find smiley”. If I was unhappy, it was “chin up m’boy”. When I asked him anything about his childhood he would say, “We was too poor”. If I asked where to look for something, it was always “up the bum of the black chook”. When I asked what was for dinner, it was always “H, P & H” – hen’s poop and honey. Every time we went on a picnic, or were floating off Cottesloe he would invariably say, “I wonder what the poor people are doing”. He would ask me how I was, and when I said “good” he would say “I know you’re good, but are you well?”. Pop had a phrase for every situation, a vocabulary that lasted him to the end.

    Even in the holidays he went into the Sunday Times most days. Every night he’d arrive home from work, with his grey New York magazine bag over his shoulder full of that night’s work. “Ho Ho”, he’d say, as he let himself in the front door. After dinner he’d go up to his office to begin the evening’s work. I remember Pop writing in his little pocket diary, several times a day – a habit that served him well when he started to lose the small details.


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Trump Tower Penthouse

    I remember on their trips back and forwards to New York, Nanna and Poppa often stopped over in Sydney. They stayed on the fold out bed in our spare room. It was easy for him to go from their Trump Tower penthouse to that small cramped room. It was the same when he left Bird Street and moved into a retirement apartment and then into Peter Arney. He always saw what was good in a situation.


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Peter Arney nursing home at Salter Point

    When I think of Poppa and the kind of person he was, a couple of things spring to mind. He was someone you knew would always do the right thing, someone with a deep sense of loyalty and someone with a ferocious work ethic. This may make him sound kind of boring, but with his honesty and determination, he managed to have a sparkling career, to be a part of television history, to give back to the community and to marry his sweetheart – Sheila. Sheila knew that loyalty – he always stood by her, they were a team.

    It has been very hard to see him fade over last few years. But despite his memory loss, the essential Poppa has continued to shine through. His “how are you m’boy?”. His smile and his salute. Every time we visited, we would get the salute. There he was, ready for duty – which hopefully involved a view of the ocean and a glass of beer.


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TURN AND SALUTE COFFIN




Tribute to Sir James Cruthers (1924-2015)

Posted by ken On November - 5 - 2015


Tribute to Sir James Cruthers (1924-2015)


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    Sir James Cruthers (1924-2015) passed away peacefully on Tuesday 13th October, aged 90.

    He was the founder of TVW Channel Seven in Perth, the first television station in Western Australia, which opened on Friday 16th October 1959.

    A Eucharist to celebrate the life of Sir James was conducted on Monday 26th October, 2015, at St George’s Cathedral in Perth.

    This was attended by many of his friends, family and former employees.

    The service was conducted by the Very Reverend Richard Pengelley, the Dean of Perth.

    Eulogies were given by his son John Cruthers, Bill McKenzie (a professional colleague), Professor Ian Constable (of the Lions Eye Institute) and a grandson, Sam Cruthers.

    Afterwards, a reception was held in the Burt Memorial Hall and attended by many of the mourners.


Celebrating the life of Sir James Cruthers at The funeral of WA’s TV Pioneer

WA TV History
Friends and family have farewelled the man who established Perth’s Channel Seven back in 1958, to begin broadcasting on Friday October 16th, 1959.

Hundreds turned out on Monday October 26th, 2015, at St George’s Cathedral for his funeral.

The service was conducted the Very Reverend Richard Pengelley the Dean of Perth.

Eulogies were given by his son John Cruthers, Bill McKenzie (a professional colleague), Professor Ian Constable (of the Lions Eye Institute) and a grandson, Sam Cruthers.


Bill McKenzie’s eulogy for Sir James Cruthers – 26 October 2015

    Bill McKenzie filled many key executive rolls at TVW, was the Managing Director of ATV in Melbourne and later become the first Managing Director of NEW-10 in Perth.


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Bill McKenzie delivers his eulogy on Sir James Cruthers at St George’s Cathedral

Good afternoon,

Sir James time as a broadcaster spans four decades and can be divided into two distinct parts.

The first part is by association with James Edward Macartney, managing editor of West Australian Newspapers, in the 1950’s-60’s and Jim’s mentor. The second by association with Keith Rupert Murdoch.


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James Edward Macartney

In 1958 Mr. Macartney asked jim to prepare a licence application for Perth’s first commercial television station. Two applications were received by the then Australian Broadcasting Control Board, – The West, and Rupert Murdoch’s Adelaide News Limited. The West application in the name of TVW Limited was successful. Jim was appointed general manager, and instructed by the board to have the station up and running in 12 months time. The company was floated on the ASX with an IPO at 10 shillings a share. Investors did not rush to participate and a shortfall was picked up by The West, who now owned slightly less than 50%.

The clock ticked quickly, and Jim had much to do, recruiting staff, a contract with H.A. Doust for studio and transmitter construction and a decision to join with an existing network or operate independently. The brave decision to be independent was taken.

Jim recalled a statement made by the then minister responsible for broadcasting in 1956, Charles Davidson. The minister said:

‘The conduct of a commercial television station is not to be considered as merely running a business for the sake of profit; television stations are in a position to exercise a constant and cumulative effect on public taste and standards of conduct, and, because of the influence they can bring to bear on the community, the business interests of licensees must at all times be subordinated to the overriding principle that the possession of a licence is, indeed, …. A public trust for the benefit of the members of our society.”

This had a life long influence on many of Jim’s decisions. Jim took the role of program manager and retained responsibility for programming until retirement. He programmed every hour of every day, every week, every month, 12 months in advance with hand written fine detail. He had a common touch and was a very, very good programmer.

From day 1 the emphasis on local programs, struck a chord with viewers. The most important local program was the evening News, crafted by doyen news editor, Darcy Farrell. A mix of community related promotions like young film-makers, young artists, Birdman Rally and Beercan Regatta led to Miss Universe, the Christmas Pageant and of course, Telethon. Channel 7 moved at a cracking pace, saving the Barracks Arch, a team to Rome for the 1960 Olympics, first direct telecast to australia of the FA Cup Final, coverage of the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, cash sponsorship and direct counting of football’s sandover medal … the list went on and on.

Aside from News, Jim’s other favourite program was World of Sport at noon each sunday. He was never happier sharing a beer with Steve Marsh and Mick Cronin, after the program, and talking about his beloved Claremont Footy Club.

Jim’s first love was journalism, and journalists, many friends for life. Among them the late Bob Cribb. Cribby. Cribby was the architect of the popular John K. Watts news segment, and Jim wrote occasional pieces. Cribby wrote and behaved like a Damon Runyon character. Lots of transgressions, file marked never to be employed again. But he always was, Jim always relented. Today would not be complete without one Cribby story, and Jim told this one many times.


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Bob Cribb

In the early 60’s police were called to the Robinson family house in Belmont to a domestic blue. A constable Isle was walking from the street into the house when Robinson shot him. Robinson ran onto the road, to commandeer a car. The driver wouldn’t stop. Robinson shot him, and then stopped a taxi at gun point. The driver was told to head for the Gnangara Pine Plantation, where Robinson ran into deep bush. News flash reports on every media.


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TVW staff milling around the small OB van used during the manhunt. (Standing) Jim Healy, John O’Callaghan, Darcy Farrell, Bob Cribb (Dec), and Paul Kinna. Colin Gorey is seated on the bonnet whilst Ross McDonald and Cedric Woods are on the roof.

Cribby was in charge of news that weekend, and decided to send a one camera outside broadcast unit to Gnangara and he would ride along. On site he interviewed inspector Freddie Douglas, who called for the public to assist in this highly dangerous matter. Cribby elaborated, “bring your dog, bring your ute, bring a gun if you’ve got one, the mad dog killer is in the bush behind me now.”


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When Robinson emerged he couldn’t believe the thousands of people confronting him … they came three deep aboard motor cycles, on horseback, in utes. It was a cross between the Beverly Hillbillies and shoot out at the O.K. Coral.


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It was compulsory live viewing on 7 that day. And Cribby was the star. Robinson was wounded but ultimately found guilty and hanged.


1963 Manhunt for Brian William Robinson

WA TV History
On the afternoon of that fateful day, Constable Iles of the Belmont Police Station, attended a disturbance at a house in Epsom Avenue, Belmont on his way home from duty. Robinson had gone berserk during an argument with his father at their home, after he had heard an incest rumour that his mother was also his sister.

As Constable Iles walked up the path to the front door of the house he was shot in the face by a shotgun, fired from a window by Robinson. Iles fell to his knees holding his face, and Robinson ran from the house, jumped the fence, pushing the kneeling Constable Iles over with his foot and then shot him in the head killing him instantly.


The retirement of James Macartney in 1968 and the subsequent take over of WA Newspapers by the Herald and Weekly Times provided Jim with the opportunity for expansion. TVW Limited became TVW Enterprises Ltd and over the next few years acquired Channel 10 Adelaide, City Theatres and the 6IX Radio Network. The Perth Entertainment Centre followed and the company was now a significant media conglomerate.

For personal reasons Jim decided to retire in 1981. A few months of golf and fishing and Jim yearned again for the cut and thrust of broadcasting. All it took was a telephone call from Rupert Murdoch. And so the second part of Jim’s broadcasting life began.


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Rupert asked Jim to be his personal assistant, based in New York. Jim would also become deputy chairman of News America and chairman of Sky Television in the U.K. Jim accepted, and he and Sheila moved to New York.

The equivalent of Charles Davidson’s 1956 views on broadcasting in Australia was probably the Hollywood reporter’s Hunter S. Thompson who famously wrote:

“The TV business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs.”

American broadcasting was certainly different. Working from an office next to Rupert did not, I’m sure, allow for much quiet time, or down time. Jim immersed himself in Fox Broadcasting News and current affairs, and separately was a regular passenger on the Concord shuttle to London for Sky. Sky was very important to Rupert. It was in a life or death struggle with competitor British Satellite Broadcasting or simply, BSB. Sky was losing millions of pounds each month and Rupert was edgy. History now repeated itself. Jim orchestrated a major promotion of Sky News with Australian News editor John O’Loan. The news became the driver for Sky.

I believe BSB’s financial position was similar, and finally common sense prevailed and a merger of the competing broadcasters saw the creation of B Sky B with Rupert a 50% stakeholder. This had been a herculean effort by Jim, perhaps the greatest achievement of his broadcasting career.

Jim and Sheila both missed family and home, and so it was that in 1989 they returned to Perth. Rupert asked jim to be chairman of the Sunday Times.


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Many people say that when you get to know a great man, the more you realize he is just a man, I can say from my experience Jim was a great man and he will be greatly missed.

Thank you.



    Seven Perth Managing Director Mario D’Orazio paid Tribute to Sir James Cruthers during the closing ceremony of the 2015 Telethon presentation, for Sir James was the founder of the Channel Seven Telethon in 1968.

    This charitable event took place in the same week in which Sir James passed away peacefully on Tuesday 13th October, aged 90.

    The Channel Seven Telethon raised $25.8m for 2015, taking Telethon’s total since starting in 1968 to more than $200 million.


A Tribute to the late Sir James Cruthers – the founder of the Channel Seven Telethon in 1968

WA TV History
The 2015 Channel Seven Telethon conducted in Perth Western Australia raises $25.8m, taking Telethon’s total since starting in 1968 to more than $200 million.





Lois Fildes the Television Wife who made a Big Difference

Posted by ken On October - 1 - 2015

 

Lois Fildes the Television Wife who made a Big Difference

    The unsung hero of the early days of commercial television was the wives of key people working in the industry, for the husbands often worked long hours to establish the stations. There were also financial pressures within the companies until they could recoup the investments required to achieve success in the market place.


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Stan and Lois Fildes

The viability of each station depended on revenue derived from sales of advertisements.

    Television in Australia began with two commercial stations each in Sydney (TCN9 and ATN7) and Melbourne (GTV9 and HSV7) in 1956. Then in 1959 television spread to Brisbane (QTQ9 and BTQ7), Adelaide (NWS9 and ADS7) and Perth (TVW7).

    With five new commercial stations coming on the air in 1959, there were concerns about how far the advertising would stretch. A fair number of national advertisers did not merchandise in Western Australia owing to the distance and high freight charges. Also the other States would be sold on a network basis, and unless TVW7 joined them, it was anticipated they would be the losers.

    There were only 3,387 licensed TV sets in the State when TVW opened on Friday October 16th 1959, although it was estimated that 70,000 people were watching on the first night, so garnering advertising was going to be a challenge when one considered the vast readership of the popular newspapers and audiences of the competing radio stations.

    TVW7 tackled this in a bold manner when it adopted a different method of advertising to their Eastern States’ counterparts. This was the British method of ‘spot’ advertising, as opposed to the American system which favoured individually sponsored programs. Following a trip to the UK, TVW sales supremo BrianTreasure realised that to achieve the revenue budget for that first year, he would need to rely heavily on local advertising and thus deduced that sponsorships would be too expensive for small advertisers. The sales team were sent out to solicit patronage from clients no matter how small or humble. Most small local advertisers started off by using ten or twenty second slides with voice-over announcements. Sometimes the artwork was simply place in front of a camera or in a caption scanner. The duty booth announcer would deliver the message live, read from a script. Should the advertisement be repeated a number of times, then the text would be audio tape recorded for replay on the night. As clients became more comfortable with this new form, they could graduated to film commercials, which enabled a little more creativity. Meanwhile, the bigger electrical stores would feature their current specials in live commercials, where fridges and washing machines were wheeled into the studio, and following a number of rehearsals, be broadcast in the scheduled commercial break. Much of this was like a production house where the nightly rostered operational staff was presenting the evenings programs and inserting a potpourri of vision from studio cameras, slides, graphics, film with associated sounds from a wide variety of sources (live announcer, tape recording, disk and sound-on-film) and all coordinated by the studio director assisted by an audio operator, telecine operator and later videotape. Owing to the complexity of all this, it was a recipe for disaster, with errors occasionally happening, following which Brian Treasure would immediately ring or arrive in the control room to lambast the poor staff as they tried to rescue the situation.


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A live studio commercial with Bon Maguire in a fridge

    The more polished advertisements came from the big national advertisers who had the means to employ production houses who in turn made elaborate film commercials, complete with specially composed jingles, dancing girls, and a plethora of fancy imagery. It was the task of TVW’s Eastern States sales teams to solicit this prime source of advertising revenue. Every means of persuasion was employed to garner this patronage, no matter the effort… should it involve entertainment, lunches or whatever. This form of salesmanship was an acquired art plied by the companies most able and respected practitioners and often assisted by the wives when conducted in a social environment.


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    Prominent in this esteemed sales field was one of TVW’s first employees Stan Fildes, who started in May 1959.

    In mid 1959, Stan opened TVW’s Melbourne office at about the same time as the Sydney office was opened, before returning to Perth as Brian Treasure’s assistant in Sales later that year.

    He was Assistant Sales Manager (1959-1963), Sales Manager (1963-1968), 1968 National Sales Manager (1968-1975), Sydney Manager of TVW Ltd and then Sydney General Manager, TVW Enterprises Ltd.

    The Eastern States sales operations produced the larger share of TVW’s revenue and this team was very highly regarded by advertising agencies across-the-board (and for that matter, other media operations).

 

TVW Revenue sources

  • 70% eastern states
  • 30% local sales

   Things were not always easy, for in the first six to eight and a half months of the station’s operation the loss situation was worrying for the Board who instructed the General Manager Jim Cruthers to reduce staff by 10%.

    When TVW released its second Directors’ Report, this indicated that the station recorded a loss of £65,221 including £36,265 provided for depreciation. The cumulative loss was therefore £104,626 and the total revenue was £305,489. Following these adverse results, the Board seriously considered ‘handing back the licence’.

    The tremendous efforts of the sales team turned things around so that the following year TVW posted a profit of £146,684 and then £225,778 before tax in 1962.


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Sunday Times July 29th, 1962

    Throughout the pioneering era and beyond, the wives of key executives played an important supportive role not only for their husbands but also for the company.


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1960 – Brian Treasure, Stan and Lois Fildes with Jocelyn Treasure

   One of the many wives doing their part was Stan Fildes’s beloved wife Lois, who sadly passed away on Monday 3rd August, 2015.

    Lois was in high demand by both top direct clients and advertising agency principals to partner them in the many industry golfing tournaments held throughout each year, for Lois was a one-time junior champion golfer in WA and a multi-Monash Cup and state Cherrywood Cup winner in NSW. In addition, Lois prepared dozens of dinner parties over time for like people and their wives in an effort to recreate a WA-type friendly environment. An ambience to get closer to these people on a personal basis. Additionally, Lois and her family entertained just about every TVW and Bell executive (and often their wives) when they visited Sydney—along with visiting personalities like Kurt Russell, Sammy Davis Jr, Loretta Swit, Fred McMurray, Florence Henderson, Paul Eddington, Pauline Collins et al—together with members of the Holmes a’ Court family. In short, Lois made a very significant, on-going contribution over many years to TVW’s success.


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1985 – Stan Fildes with Michael Jackson and Robert Holmes a Court

    Though not on the payroll, Lois’s standing was as a fine, lovely-natured and staunch TVW ‘operative’. For it was always a ‘family affair’ when it came to securing millions of dollars for TVW!

    Jocelyn Treasure, the widow of former TVW joint Managing Director Brian Treasure, kindly provided the following insight…

“Lois and I were very dear and close friends in those early chaotic years of television and remained so until the Fildes family moved to Sydney. Lois was wonderful: tall, elegant, clever, gentle, a devoted and totally selfless wife and mother, a fantastic golfer  and a marvellous friend. Together we explored the new territory of married life: pregnancies, motherhood, keeping house, entertaining, and filling in on the home front for husbands who were completely mesmerised by the exciting new phenomenon that was television, and consequently often absent.

We were typical 60s housewives I suppose, trying hard to get everything right so that our men would be proud of us. We found ourselves thrown into something I don’t either of us was particularly prepared for and were sometimes out of our depth, but we were young and energetic and muddled and laughed our way through most of it.

Everything was new and fascinating in those early days of television; when I look back on those years I think of them as the “juicy” times. I am grateful to have shared them with such a kind, generous, and unforgettable friend.”

    Sadly, Lois suffered an acute stoke in 2004 and only recently went into a nursing home to pass away on Monday 3rd August, 2015.

    Stan’s daughter Susanne, her husband Carl and grandchildren Jason and Samantha were a great support up to and during the period Lois needed to go into care. Interestingly, both Jason and Samantha followed Lois into golf to be junior champions. For as a 14 year old, Jason (who was taught by Lois) became a champion NSW junior and state representative against Greg Norman’s State of Origin junior Queensland team.


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Samantha, Lois and Jason

    This help was very much appreciated, as Stan’s son David suffered a brain tumour at 15 years of age and the following cobalt treatment left him with a legacy of acute short-term memory and double-vision, even though, David was still of enormous help on a daily basis in caring for his mother.


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David Fildes with his mother

    All who knew Lois are unanimous in their praise. She was viewed as being a saint with a great sense of humour, a stylish and loving lady, she left a magic with anyone who met her, a joy to have known and a great hostess. In reality, she was one of TVW’s secret weapons whilst also being a kind hearted and perfect person.

 

Stan wishes to thank all those who offered their heart felt commiseration’s and in a brief footnote, has the following sentiments to add:

The tributes “…to my beloved Lois, are greatly appreciated by myself and the rest of the family. Lois and I were 60+ years married, and I have to say that for the first 20 years I fell well short of her high standards—but during the next 40 years I tried to make-up for my shortcomings by amongst other things, becoming a pretty good carer, firstly for David (with Lois leading the way) and certainly for Lois for 15 years after her acute stroke. She died aged 86, but not before silently correcting the swing of the many Mona Vale Golf Club members she could see from her aged-care facility window overlooking the course!”

 

 

 

Archiving of  Local News Film from Channel 9’s Library

Posted by ken On September - 29 - 2015

 

Archiving of Local News Film from Channel 9’s Library

    Over the past year and more Terry Spence, former News Director, together with former Chief Film/Tape Editor Geoff Wallace and freelance News Cameraman Daryl Binning, have been on a rescue mission. The team has been evaluating what should be preserved from STW Channel 9’s large news film library pending the Perth station’s move from its present location.

Terry Spence outlines what was involved.


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At night, the STW9 complex showing studios, production and administrative areas, helicopter pad with its Channel 9 logo and (top centre) the station’s satellite dishes at the earth station. Channel 9 began broadcasting in June 1965. Soon this complex of buildings will disappear and be replaced by a residential estate.

    Anyone who has ‘moved house’ after quite some years of living in a residence knows the challenges – one of them being what you take with you; what you toss out after you’ve had your garage sale. It can be a perplexing exercise assessing the intrinsic values of what have been accumulated as personal items.

    STW9 now has to conduct a similar exercise. After 50 years in the Tuart Hill enclave which has until now accommodated Perth’s three commercial television stations Channel 9 is moving to a swanky new state-of-the-art studio complex located right in the city’s Saint Georges Terrace CBD district. TVW7 has already moved out of Tuart Hill and NEW10 will eventually follow.

    The large area of land from which the thriving business of television once entertained and informed the citizens of Perth for over half a century will become housing estates, populated by communities who now receive their entertainment and information in a variety of electronic forms. But still available for the foreseeable future amongst all that’s now available will be what began it all in 1959: television, first and free.


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Geoff Wallace at the beginning of the assessment with a stack of film cans, each holding 2,000 feet of 16 mm film and sound tracks. A smaller number of cans holding 400 feet were also assessed.

    Geoff Wallace calculated that what confronted the team was an approximate total of 285 cans of news and documentary material. Working away with his calculator he figured that at two rolls of 1,000 feet per can that equalled 570,000 feet (in the old money) and that that extrapolated out to 108 miles. Film folk still talk in feet when it comes to measuring film but if the metric standard is preferred that’s 174,000 metres or 174 kilometres.

    What did all this reduce down to when the team’s work was finished? There are 48 cans remaining holding approximately 36,000 feet or 7 miles of film and sound tracks – hundreds of news stories and 14 documentaries – now stored ready to travel on moving day.


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The completed archive is checked by Geoff Wallace.

    To understand the apparent severity of a culling process reducing so much film down to what now remains to be preserved, the challenges of doing so have to be appreciated. Over its 50 years the station’s newsroom moved a number of times around the complex; the news film library accompanied by a card file system moving with it. Along the way as the revolution of the lightweight electronic video camera began replacing the film camera, the day-to-day process of news gathering and its immediacy saw film as a medium rarely used. By about the early 1980s Channel 9 news gathering was completely electronic.

    The film library finally became an almost forgotten thing only occasionally called upon for historic footage. Some disarray in its maintenance inevitably evolved. The archiving team found many cans without vital cue sheets enclosed making the identifying of many items impossible. In some cases cue sheets were found in the wrong cans. And most seriously, along the way as the newsroom moved the card file system had disappeared.

    Selection of material for inclusion in a news film archive is a subjective and imperfect science. What might be judged by one person as being worthwhile may be rejected by another. Nevertheless, at such times choices and hard decisions must ultimately be made by someone. In assessing the Channel 9 news film library the criteria were newsworthiness, historical, heritage, community and sociological considerations.


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Daryl Binning has a collection of equipment retained from his days in film – equipment not easily found in the all-electronic television stations of today. For part of the assessment process he set up a bench with winders for lacing up film, a viewer and a mini sound sound reader for checking sound-on-film material. Terry Spence watches Daryl at work.

    What was significant in the rejection of material was the huge amount of major news stories supplied by the international news agency VISNEWS. This had been acquired in kinescope form – relatively poor copies of original stories – in the period before being replaced by either video tapes flown in or later by direct satellite feeds. Any of those kinescoped stories would now be readily available in digital form from whatever agency services the station.

    Also rejected were many stories from eastern states Nine Network sources, these now being accessible from the network’s archive. Similarly, there was no point keeping film material which over the years had been transferred to an electronic format. All that was being sort was local content on film.

    The reality of the exercise was that apart from the historical significance of the material there was a space consideration. The space required to store large quantities of bulky film cans stacked in cupboards can be demanding compared with the massive amounts of material that can now be stored in digital format on computer hard drives.


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Much of the film piled into these cartons might once have been of only passing interest in Channel 9’s daily news bulletins in the 1960s-70s. Now – the hard decisions having been made – they are been relegated to the dustbin of history.

    What, technically, is of interest was the use of a particular machine in the assessment project. It’s a machine whose brand name has become synonymous with film editing throughout the world. It’s the Steenbeck – a flatbed film editing table which is usable with both 16 mm and 35 mm optical sound and magnetic sound film. The German-made machine (the company still manufactures them) was the one used almost universally for decades for film editing throughout Australia.

    However, with the advent of the switch from film to video there are probably only a relative handful of operable Steenbecks now remaining in the country. In Western Australia there are only a few of these left: one, for example, owned by long-time Perth filmmaker Carmelo Musca; the other by Daryl Binning as part of his collection of equipment from the days of film.


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Channel 9 still has a Steenbeck machine but – rarely used for decades – it is now inoperable. Daryl Binning employed one of the few technicians in WA familiar with Steenbecks to bring his machine back into service. Here, seen located at Channel 9, it was of great help to the archiving team.

    For about 18 months the team spooled their way through all those miles of news stories, clips of film from daily news bulletins, some as short as 20 seconds. It was a viewing of a cavalcade of people, public figures and politicians; of events historical, haunting and humorous. They were the stories which ‘made the news of the day’, images from about 15 years of the state’s history. Those judged worthy of historical interest will be carefully preserved; those of ephemeral or short-lived interest have been surrendered to a time now gone.


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Geoff Wallace (seated) at the Steenbeck with Daryl Binning (left) and Terry Spence. Geoff in his long career as a film editor at Channel 9 would have edited thousands of news stories on a similar machine.

 

 

 

TVW Female Staff Uniform – Modesty Issues

Posted by ken On August - 4 - 2015

TVW Female Staff Uniform – Modesty Issues

    Well before the bikini, the two or even one piece swimming suit there was a more stringent attitude to the morality of dress and how much skin could be shown in western society.



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    Morality or modesty seemed to also to be the issue during the early years at TVW Channel 7 in the manner the female staff were to be attired.

   In 1981, Gary Carvolth had the opportunity to reflect on this topic and the company policy during the mini-dress era. It required the girls to kneel so that company secretary Frank Moss could measure the hemline height above the knee. Jean Hunsley was one lady to object and was finally given dispensation. This reminiscing took place at the send-off for Sir James Cruthers on his retirement, and includes a look back at the uniforms of yesteryear. This was best illustrated by a fashion parade, most aptly described by Stephanie Quinlan.


TVW Female Staff Uniform Issues

WA TV History
The video is a small excerpt from the Sir James send-off and contains a couple of references to the many occasions Bob Cribb was suspended for various misdemeanours. It was a running joke on the day, for Bob was one of the real characters working at Channel Seven, who was both revered as an outstanding journalist and found to be a constant challenge to management when it came to complying with strict company procedures.


In the early 1960s, the girls were dresses in pleated navy blue dresses with light blue tops.


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Kay Saville, Sue Hymus (nee Laurence), Ronda Ashton (nee McWaters) and Perry Moss

    At times the female uniform included a ruffle in an attempt to hide any hint of a large bosom, as worn here by the lovely Jan Bedford, seen talking to Bon Maguire. Jan was an Australian gymnast who competed at the 1964 Olympics in all artistic gymnastics events. Her best individual results were in the floor and balance beam. Jan appeared mainly on Children’s Channel Seven as a hostess.


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Jan Bedford with Bon Maguire

   Gary Carvolth and Jan Bedford dressed as astronauts for Children’s Channel Seven, on one of the theme days. It was difficult for either Jan or Carolyn Nobel to keep a straight face when ever Gary appeared on the show.


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Gary Carvolth with Jan Bedford

    As pointed out by former cameraman Dennis Livingston, the studio floor crew uniforms in the TVW colours back in the mid 1970s were.yellow shirts, black ties, black pants and black shoes.

The TVW netball team in 1973 was also dressed in those colours.


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Sophia Stefanoff, Velia Cometti, Lynette Thorpe (deceased), Luise Borsje, Darienne, Jan Galliott, Jackie, unknown and Maureen Burgwyn

    “We did win the best dressed team if not a game, and not due to Glenys Gill’s fine coaching, but probably due to the late Friday nights drinking with the crowd after work”, reports Maureen Iustini (nee Burgwyn).

    Jean Hunsley was one lady who objected eventually to wearing the TVW uniforms. Here is a rare photo of Jean in uniform .


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Jean Hunsley with Coralie Condon, Penny Hoes and Carolyn Noble

   Jean Hunsley started in ballet before going into production, and worked up to be a program director. Later Jean was involved with good friend Coralie Condon and Frank Baden-Powell in a series of successful theatre restaurants. Jean’s brother was a dress designer and Jean herself was a skilled dress maker. The well liked and respected Jean stuck to her guns when it came to wearing the less than stylish TVW uniforms and after a long resistance, was finally given dispensation.


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Jean Hunsley was an early studio director at TVW

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Frank Moss talks to Gary Carvolth about the strict dress code for staff… in this case the female staff

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Stephanie Quinlan with TVW company secretary Frank Moss as she describes a parade of former TVW female uniforms

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A parade of female staff wearing former TVW uniforms

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Frank Moss demonstrated how he measured the hemlines of female uniforms

    In a way this demonstrates the change of attitudes, as no doubt that practice would be considered sexist in the present age of political correctness.

    At worst the gents would have considered it a bit odd and many girls may have wished to side with Jean Hunsley, though job security would be a factor in an era when married women had to leave the workforce. Fortunately that aspect of discrimination has now gone. Some think Sheila Cruthers may have played a role in the hemline issue? For she was known to take a keen interest in various aspects of the station. Making constant suggestions to improve the children’s show, determined by how much the content grabbed the attention of her children.

    The staff loved Frank Moss and he was most protective of his girls. He did take time to look after staff needs when they were under great stress working long hours to establish the station. Many personal sacrifices were made at that time, with wives often being alone while their executive husbands were called to duty. The first six months of the station were most worrisome, until the company began to make a profit.


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A July 2015 photo of the television precinct with TVW missing from the landscape

   Now that the old studios have been demolished, the last remnants of a different age has now gone. The Seven Perth infrastructure of today does not resemble what the veterans remember. Seven management has also changed a number of times with each its own culture. Stamped by the personalities and philosophies of those at the helm.




Tribute to Bill Meacham (1929 – 2014)

Posted by ken On August - 1 - 2015


Tribute to Bill Meacham (1929 – 2014)


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    We sadly and belatedly report the passing of former Seven Perth senior News and documentary cameramen Bill Meacham in January of 2014.

    Bill was the last survivor of a generation of TVW cameramen that included Digby Milner, Tom Hall, Lu Belci, Stan Jeffery, Matt Williams and Peter Makowski.

    Other noted cameramen of the era included Peter Goodall, Don Hanran-Smith, Alex McPhee, Brad Pearce, Steve Thompson, Roger Dowling, Michael Goodall, Gordon McColl, Ian McLean and Westley Ashton.



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    Bill was born at the beginning of the Great Depression, which was brought about by The Wall Street Crash of 1929. This presented the world with with years of gloom and hardship that continued until the industrial effort for World War II lifted the economy out of the doldrums. The war lasted from 1939 till 1945. The circumstances of that era moulded the character of those who lived through it, for Bill had strict upbringing with his teenage years spent working for his father in the family bakery in Rockhampton.

    Bill’s son Michael has kindly provided a eulogy that highlights various aspects of his life and his great passion that also become his career. For he was known for never being without a camera in his teens. Then in 1959, a maritime tragedy involving a capsized barge off the coast of Queensland gave Bill the opportunity to capture the event, which in turn led to a job as a news cameraman in with QTQ Channel 9 in Brisbane.


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Filming for QTQ9 in Brisbane

    Bill applied to TVW Channel 7 in Perth in 1967 and was appointed head cameraman following interviews by Darcy Farrell, the Seven news editor and Film Manager Bill McKenzie, who travelled to Brisbane to meet with Bill.

    Bill was recognised for holding high expectation of quality from not only himself but the staff engaged under him. He would say that, “If a job was worth doing, it was worth doing properly”, no matter what it was.

    It was a career that would send him to film documentaries and stories in all manner of places, with all kinds of people.

    He filmed at musicals, World Beauty pageants, air-crashes, major fires, major boxing matches, Olympic and Commonwealth Games

    According to his son Michael, Bill was always busy and not particularly good at just chilling out and exploring topics such as philosophy or politics. “He was a doer, more than an idle thinker.”

Please click HERE to read the eulogy that Michael presented at his father’s funeral service.

    In this presentation, Michael touched on Bill’s business venture with other key colleagues from TVW Channel 7.

    Keith Mackenzie, John Hudson, Don Rowe and Bill Meacham formed a production company called Threshold in 1979. Their first big project was to travel the world to make a documentary titled: “Fragile Handle with Care”. This program took a look into the future, anticipating what may happen in the 1980’s with regard to society, entertainment, technology and the environment. The next major project was to remake the Maybelline cosmetics commercials for Australia, at a time when regulation prohibited overseas Ad productions from domineering the market.


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Keith Mackenzie, Don Rowe and Bill Meacham at TVW’s 50th Reunion in 2009
Don Rowe – News/Production/Promotions 1970-1979
Bill Meacham – Senior Cine Cameraman – 1967-1980

    Keith Mackenzie kindly elaborated on this facet of Bill’s career…

From my point of view there are many stories about Bill and his association with John Hudson and myself already on the John Hudson Tribute site, however, here is a personal view of our association–

“Bill and I spent many years travelling The World Producing Documentaries for TVW Channel 7, many of which also involved John Hudson as Producer/Interviewer.

We later travelled and worked together when “Threshold” was formed.

Bill and I grew very close as, apart from sharing Hotel Rooms when travelling (to keep the costs down) we also spent weeks huddled over a Steinbeck Film editing machine as Bill was, on most occasions, also the Film Editor on our Projects.

We were basically a 2 Man team when out shooting, also to keep down the costs, where Bill filmed and lit everything, and I Directed and Recorded the Sound and sometimes operated a 2nd Camera.

We had quite a few adventures which have already been documented on the Tribute to John Hudson site.

Bill and I also worked together on a number of other Projects which were more Light Entertainment style Programmes rather than News Documentaries.

Some of those were–

  •   
  • “Rolf Was Here” a “Fly on the Wall” Film travelling around the Goldfields with Rolf Harris and also Filming his Concert.
  •   
  • “Johnny Cash Special” when we flew Johnny to Kalgoorlie, after his Concert at the WACA Ground, and filmed his visit, to be inserted into his Concert OB Special.
  •   
  • We also Filmed Steam Trains and their Grave Yards around the State to be inserted into one of his numbers from the Concert.
  •   
  • “Miss Universe” where we filmed a lot of inserts all over WA for the Programme.
  •   
  • “The Official Opening of the Mount Whaleback Mine Site for Mount Newman Mining” where we shot the sequence of Events from an explosion at the Mine site then all the way through the processing and transportation of the Ore to when it left on a ship from Port Hedland heading for Japan.

Our biggest problem was the Camera continually getting choked up with Ore dust.

The above two projects saw us hanging out of Helicopters, with the door off of course, filming The Indian Pacific Train on the Nullarbor and an Iron Ore Train travelling from Mount Newman to Port Hedland. For one shot we sat the Helicopter down on the rails with the Ore Train travelling towards us, we then lifted off at the last minute travelling up and around the very long train in a continuous sequence. I had warned the Train Driver before hand what we were going to do and not to apply the brakes when he saw a Helicopter right in front of him on the railway line. I wish I had a close up of his face as he came towards us wondering if we were going to lift off in time. In those days we didn’t have the luxury of a Ball mounted camera on the outside of the Helicopter with the Cameraman sitting inside. We had to have the door off and Bill had to sit on the floor with his legs out of the side of the Helicopter holding the Camera.

Bill was always up for new and unusual shots and contributed so much to the end result, both in the shooting and the editing.

We had a very close working relationship and a lot of fun also in our down time on location.

It was a period of my working life that I wouldn’t have missed for anything. Thanks Bill.”


    In 1975, Bill and Gary Carvolth covered the Muhammad Ali fight with Joe Fazier in Manila, billed as the Thrilla in Manila. This prize fight was ranked as one of the best in the sport’s history, as Ali described it, “Killa and a Thrilla and a Chilla, when I get that gorilla in Manila.”


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Gary Carvolth filmed with Muhammad Ali by Bill Meacham

    There was no easy cost effective satellite program exchange for them to affordably send footage back to Perth, so at the end of the day… Bill and Gary had to take the film and air freight it to TVW Channel 7.

    Gary relates the story, “It was by sheer luck and devotion to our jobs that we went a week early to scout out the scene and by being forward was able to set up a meeting to interview the great Muhammad Ali. What a great opportunity and in the process I asked if he would donate his boxing gloves, shorts and boots to Telethon.” Muhammed said, “Do you know how much these would be worth.” I said we could guess but it was for the children and explained about Telethon and how so much money is raised for such a good cause, and Muhammad agreed.

    In the late 1970s, Bill and Brian Williams remade an early TVW documentary that was titled ‘Baptism of Fire’. This one-hour black and white documentary was produced by Brian and focused on the first-ever naval engagement of the Royal Australian Navy off the Cocos Islands. It was broadcast nationally as part of the Project ’64 series. Australian made documentaries were not a feature of commercial television until the Postmaster General Charles Davidson introduced content related provisions in 1960. The ABC had pioneered this field from its earliest days and then in 1961 ‘Four Corners’ became Australia’s first authoritative current affairs program. This program was co-founded by journalist and television producer Robert Raymond (1922-2003) with presenter Michael Charlton, before Raymond accepted an offer from Clyde Packer and Bruce Gyngell to set up a special projects division at Channel Nine (TCN Sydney and GTV Melbourne), which TVW Channel 7 in Perth had a loose affiliation. Interestingly, when Sir Frank Packer closed the special projects division in 1968, Raymond established his own company and began making documentaries for the Seven Network.


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Brian Williams with Bill Meacham

    The 1977 colour version of this documentary was called ‘The Cocos Incident’, which further told the story of the German Cruiser Emden and her eventual destruction at the hands of HMAS Sydney on November 9, 1914.

    Unlike ‘Baptism of Fire’, Bill and Brian travelled to the site of the naval incident and filmed remnants of the wreck.


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Bill with underwater camera

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Newspaper Article

    A wall in Bill’s home featured artefacts belonging to the Emden, with the centrepiece being a porthole from this fateful vessel.


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    The TVW presentation team of Sandy Baker and Ian Teasdale won a Sammy Award for Gerry Swift’s ‘What in the World’ children’s education program, filmed by Bill Meacham, which Jeff Newman was instrumental in creating. ‘What In The World’ started in 1973, of which 320 episodes were made until production ceased in 1979. It was sold to 12 TV stations throughout Australia, was shown in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and won the Sammy award as best children’s series in Australia.


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Bill Meacham, Sandy Baker, Ian Teasdale and Gerry Swift with the Sammy Award

Commercial television stations now required to screen ‘C’ classified programming, aimed solely at children aged 6 to 13, every weekday between 4pm and 5pm. Early ‘C’ classified programs on Seven include Stax and Shirl’s Neighbourhood. Commercial stations are also required to screen a minimum of 30 minutes each weekday, prior to 4pm, of programming aimed at pre-school viewers.

July 1st 1979: Commercial television stations now required to screen ‘C’ classified programming, aimed solely at children aged 6 to 13, every weekday between 4pm and 5pm. Early ‘C’ classified programs include Simon Townsend’s Wonder World (0-10), Stax (Seven) and Shirl’s Neighbourhood (Seven). Commercial stations are also required to screen a minimum of 30 minutes each weekday, prior to 4.00pm, of programming aimed at pre-school viewers.

    Margaret O’Brien, a former secretary to Max Bostock, kindly provided these notes about Bill’s funeral, which was held in St Michael’s Abbey Church – a quaint little church / early learning school / museum, all on a huge rustic paddock at the end of dead-end road on the doorstep of the Sunshine Coast, Bribie Island and Brisbane.


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    The ¾ hr service was mostly a reflection on Bill’s working life right from how he landed his first job at QTQ-9, Brisbane.


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St Michaels Church

    Father Tom Strong even told of when he visited him in hospital, Bill was criticising how various commercials on the TV had been shot – the lighting was not right – wrong equipment used etc etc. He also told the story – how a few years ago, Bill criticised him on how he delivered his sermons. He had to focus on the strained glass window above the front door, rather than be looking at his feet (which was when he was thinking about what he would say next). By doing this, Father Tom was told this would draw the congregation in more and his voice would project better!!




Vale Joanne Crilly

Posted by ken On July - 19 - 2015


Vale Joanne Crilly

    We sadly report that Joanne, the wife of television veteran John Crilly, has passed away after a long and courageous battle with illness. We were first alerted to this by Janine Vidot at Seven Perth.

    Kevin Campbell pointed out that she was a wonderful battler for life after not fully recovering from surgery to then survive under duress for many years. Greg Byrne not only pointed this out, but also that John really loved her so much. It was Kevin she went to Melbourne to talk John into coming to TVW from GTV and said Jo was most supportive of the move.

    John Crilly has had a remarkable career in the industry with an involvement in numerous key shows over those years.

    John started as a stage hand on Graham Kennedy’s “In Melbourne Tonight” show in 1959 and remained there until joining Nine Perth as the Production Manager. He was there for six Appealathons for STW Channel 9.

    John was then drawn into Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket (1977-79) as a television director before becoming GTV’s Head of Production in 1984/85. He eventually joined TVW and did a great job in keeping the station in production at a time when there was a trend towards greater centralisation and networking.

    John eventually went freelance with JC Media Productions, whilst maintaining a link with Seven Perth by producing the Christmas Pageant and annual Telethon. John Crilly worked on Telethon for 27 years and had a total of 34 years involvement with such appeals at Seven, STW9 and GTV9.

    Our heart felt commiserations go to John Crilly on the sad loss of his wife and partner over those many years they shared of Australian television history.


John Crilly with Steve Quartly.jpg

John Crilly with Steve Quartly at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992


The Funeral for the late Mrs Joanne Crilly of Karrinyup will assemble at the East Chapel in PINNAROO VALLEY Memorial Park, Whitfords Avenue, Padbury for a Cremation Service to commence at 2.30pm on TUESDAY (21.07.2015).


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Facebook entries…

Kim Lesouef: Sorry to hear about his wife! John was an inspirational man to work with. He is so talented.





Lesley Bradford: Oh that’s dreadful. I remember going to an Eagles auction and it was their anniversary the same day. He bought Joanne a vacuum cleaner! We told him off and called him Mr Hoover all night and the next week at work. I offer my deepest sympathy to John and the boys.





Adrian Chambers: Thoughts are with you, John.






Peter Wharram: Sorry for your loss John..






Karl Miethe: Sympathies John and a family






Murray Korff: Very sad news. She fought a long and difficult fight. Condolences from Jan and me John.






Russell Goodrick: Sad news . Our prayers are with you !






Mike Voss: Very sad John, condolences may she rest in peace.






Ray Wardrop: Thoughts for Crills and his family.






Sally Fay: Thoughts to the family xxxx






Lionel Yorke: John, my thoughts are with u & family on the sad news of your beautiful wife Jo, we all go back a long time!
My sincere condolences, much love to all! L. xx






Steve Curtis: So sorry to hear that






Di Ingelse: Sincère condolences to John and the boys.






Nic Nolan: Sorry to hear that. Condolences to John and family.






Jenny Seaton: So sad to have lost beautiful Jo..so many memories






Bob Finkle: Very sad news. John our thoughts are with you and family.






Keith Spice: Sincere condolences to you and your family John.






Howard Sattler: Condolences from all of us for Crills, one of the industry’s true great gentlemen.






Cindy Dean Antulov: Thinking of dear John Crilly on his sad loss. 






Anne Yardley: My thoughts go out to John, Ben and Luke. Such a tragic loss.





David Christison: Thinking of you at this sad time old mate.






Ian Seaton: So sad to here this news John. My thoughts are with you and your boys. Have great memories of you and Jo.






Ian Jobsz: So sorry for your loss John… Like Seats, I have great memories of our time together at STW… Stay strong mate.. Regards.






Chris Rapoff: Deepest sympathies to you and the family John. Thoughts go out at this sad time.


The WA TV History Public Facebook page (Click Here).


Comments from Members of the broadcasting fraternity (Click Here).



Published in: The West Australian
Friday, 17 July 2015

CRILLY (Jo):
Our deepest sympathy to husband John and sons Ben and Luke on the loss of such a beautiful and extraordinary person taken from us, but we know her infectious smile and laughter is now lighting up Heaven.
Gianna and John Burgess.


Published in: The West Australian
Saturday, 18 July 2015

CRILLY (Jo):
Our deepest sympathies to John and family. Our thoughts and best wishes are with you at this sad time. From all your friends at Channel 7 and Telethon.

CRILLY (Joanne):Treasured memories of a true friend. Always caring for others and somehow smiling and courageous through the endless pain. Heartfelt sympathy to John and our Godsons Ben and Luke.

Sleep now dearest Jo Roger and Jan

CRILLY (Joanne):The flame of life has been extinguished, the long and courageous battle over but the countless years with memories of laughter, joy, fellowship and selfless generosity will never ever be forgotten. R.I.P. JoJo. Gabrielle and Bill Beams.

CRILLY (Joanne ): Sincere sympathy to John, Ben and Luke on the sad loss of your loving wife and Mum.
Wendy and David Christison

CRILLY (Jo):
Heartfelt sympathy to John, Ben and Luke on the sad passing of a beautiful lady. May she now rest at peace. Love and thoughts are with you.
Ken and Jenny Walther






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